Governor vetoes 3 bills passed by legislature

Hawaii State Capitol

Gov. Neil Abercrombie vetoed three bills out of the nine that he had flagged with an intent-to-veto notification. The Governor will also allow twelve measures to become law without a signature.

In a press release, the governor gave the following reasons for the vetoes:

HB654 (Related to Nursing) – The Governor vetoed this bill because it requires the state Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs’ Professional and Vocational Licensing Division to collaborate with the Hawaii Center for Nursing, which the division is already doing, and to collect data by requesting nurses to complete a center survey, which the division currently does by providing electronic links at both the beginning and end of its licensing renewal process. Thus, this bill’s objectives can be achieved by agreement and it is unnecessary to include these provisions in state statutes. It is also unnecessary to tie the renewal of nursing licenses to the completion of a survey.

HB763 (Relating to the State Building Code) – The Governor objected to this bill because it seeks funding from the Hurricane Relief Fund. The fund is essential to ensure the protection and safety of the people of Hawaii and, toward that end, the fund must be rebuilt and not depleted. Using the fund for the activities of the Hawaii State Building Code Council, however arguably relevant, establishes a negative precedent and may invite others to deplete the fund for uses that are remote from the primary purpose of the fund.

HB988 (Relating to Native Wildlife) – Among the Governor’s objections to this bill are that its scope is too narrow and only allows the Environmental Response Revolving Fund to support the operations for a recovery and rehabilitation facility of native wildlife affected by oil related spills. If the goal of this bill is to provide funding for a specific facility, the grant appropriation process as provided under chapter 42F, Hawaii Revised Statutes, would be a more appropriate funding source. Additionally, section 128D-2, Hawaii Revised Statutes, currently allows the Fund to be used “[f]or oil spill planning, prevention, preparedness, education, research, training, removal, and remediation.” This would allow for the rehabilitation of wildlife harmed by an oil spill, although the responsible parties typically pay for such response.

An additional objectionable item was that HB988 would have expanded the number of programs that draw from the fund generated by the Environmental Response, Energy, and Food Security Tax pursuant to section 243-3.5, Hawaii Revised Statutes, commonly referred to as the “barrel tax,” without increasing the barrel tax allocation to support the expansion. The fund has been declining due in part to the rising cost of oil, the switch to alternative energy sources, and the aviation fuel exemption. The fund is already being burdened by supporting environmental emergency response activities and approximately 40 positions within the state Department of Health and cannot support an additional program within the current allocation to the department.

The Governor encouraged the legislature to review and consider additional action next session for the majority of the twelve bills allowed to become law without a signature:

* denotes bills that were on the intent-to-veto list.

HB619 (Relating to Feral Birds) was the only bill on the Governor’s intent-to-veto list that was signed into law on Monday. HB619 outlaws the excessive feeding of feral birds and considers the practice a public nuisance.

The Governor previously notified the Legislature on June 20 that he would use his line-item authority to veto the funding of SB909 (Relating to Making Appropriations for Collective Bargaining Cost Items) associated with the rejected Bargaining Unit 13 settlement offer.

RELATED STORY: Governor sends legislature intent-to-veto notice for 9 bills


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